Monday, July 01, 2013

M.J. v. USA (9th Cir. - July 1, 2013)

I had never really thought deeply before about the difficulties of law enforcement in incredibly rural communities.  When I think of "rural" places, I generally think of locations in central Nebraska and the like.  You've got a very small police force, to be sure, and perhaps it's located dozens of miles (or even more) away.  But I'm still thinking Andy Griffith.  The general structure still works.

But we're in the Ninth Circuit.  Which includes Alaska.  What do you do when the rural community of 650 or so is located really far from the next communityHundreds of miles.  With no roads to even get there.  How do you conduct law enforcement?

It gets even more complicated when the rural community is essentially coextensive with an Indian tribe.  Then difficult jurisdictional stuff makes it especially complex.

There's no easy answer.  As this case demonstrates.

Alaska has a special attraction to many in the Lower 48.  "The Last Frontier" and all.  The prospect of lawlessness and lack of medical care may perhaps may it less so.  Though, at the same time, the need to rely on one's community perhaps simultaneously makes the place all the more special.

It's a different place, Alaska.  Especially in the bush.